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Google Fi Review (2019)

Google Fi

After ten years of using AT&T, I switched to Google Fi and here are my thoughts. Before I start my review, here’re some details you might be interested in. I use Google Fi on an unlocked iPhone XS. I knew very well about the limitations before I signed up for the service. So, here is my review of Google Fi on iPhone.

Application

I’ve been a Google Voice (GV) user since the past ten years. I love the service. I’ve used it for my voicemail and for making international calls to India. I liked the voicemail transcription feature too. This is a pretty common feature now, but, GV pioneered it.

Anyway, I was able to sign up for Google Fi online from this page here https://fi.google.com/signup and apply for the SIM card installation kit.

During the application process, you’re presented with the following 3 options:

Google Fi Sign up form

If you select Use another number you own and use your current phone number, you’ll lose your GV number for good. I didn’t want to lose my GV number. So, I canceled the sign up process and logged in to my GV account and transferred my GV phone number to another Google account of mine. Once I did that, I restarted my Google Fi sign up process. Now, the form looked like this:

Google Fi Sign up form without the Google Voice option

Everything else was pretty straight forward. The SIM card itself is free. It ships in a week or so. Since, I wanted the SIM card ASAP, I chose to go with the $15 expedited shipping option. I got it the very next day.

Activation

Once I got hold of the Google Fi SIM card, I installed the Google Fi app from the iOS App Store. I placed the SIM in my iPhone and opened the app. I was able to follow through the steps and have the service activated within 5 mins. Yep, it was that quick and simple. The app guides you through the process of setting up SMS/MMS/Voicemail on iPhone.

Caveats

In order to check voicemail, you need to check the Google Fi app. The native iOS Phone app doesn’t have access to the voicemails. Personally, this wasn’t a big deal. I never really used AT&T’s voicemail on my iPhone anyway. I always used the GV app to check my voicemail. The only difference now is that I need to check my voicemail in the Google Fi app.

Billing

I am all praise for Google in this section. Google nailed it with the UI. Honestly, I didn’t expect anything less from Google. It is extremely minimalistic and easy to understand your Fi plan. AT&T on the other hand, I had to watch this video to prepare myself before I opened my AT&T account.

Rocky Balboa Inspirational Speech

I had to tap through 5-7 different screens to get any information that made sense to me.

See how clean the UI is? Good job, Google.

International Calling

I absolutely love how Google Fi supports international calling from the United States. This basically renders my GV account useless. All the features of GV that I loved are baked into Google Fi. General information about international calling can be found here: https://fi.google.com/about/international-rates/

Speed Test

I performed a speed test on fast.com and here’re the results for Google Fi LTE

Google Fi LTE speed test results from Fast.com

The results are pretty good. I tried streaming videos (YouTube) and audio (Apple Music) with positive results.

Conclusion

While I’m missing out on the automatic carrier switching feature of Google Fi by using it on an iPhone, I still like the service. So far, the signal reception hasn’t been bad. The data speeds are pretty good. I just hope Google comes up with a solution to make automatic carrier switching work with the iPhones soon.